Maldives on a Budget
Updated November, 2023
The famous whale shark area in South Ari Atoll, Dhigurah is a long Maldivian island with stretch of white sandy beaches. Heaven for fans of underwater adventures, Dhigurah island is 20-minutes by domestic flight or 1.5 hour speed-boat ride from Malé airport. Budgetary in width, and stretching for a length of 3 kilometers, a beautiful populated island is considered to be one of the longest in the Maldives.
An extensive strips of soft sands, an array of dense vegetation and clear turquoise waters surround a settlement, and Dhigurah Island has all the necessary facilities for living, including a school, a hospital and a harbor. Local life is concentrated on a small area in the north of the island, and the rest of the land is occupied by fruit and vegetable plantations, as well as dense natural vegetation. Around Dhigurah are some world-class dive sites in the country, including Kuda Rah Thila, Manta Point and Reethi Thila. Dhigurah Island is also an ideal destination for snorkeling with whale sharks and manta rays.
How to Get: Transfers
Transport in the Maldives is not always easily arranged, and there are a bunch of options to get Dhigurah Island. Dhigurah is located 97km/60nm from Velana airport, Male. Sea plane, speedboats, domestic flight, public ferries or private transfer. For traveling to Ari Atoll, there are a few options, and we’ll list the typical ones!
Already traveling around and in the neighborhood? Take the atoll ferry! There are two different routes, both passing Dhigurah. #304 starts in Fenfushi and goes to Mahibadhoo, #308 goes the other way around. Take a look at other possible ferry routes in the Maldives.
Not in the neighborhood? You’ll probably have to travel back to Male’ and go from there.
Note! In the off-chance that the sea is very rough, boats might not travel and the domestic flight will be the only solution.
- 1. VillaAir: Every day regular flights (recommended).
Male Airport - Villa International Airport Maamigili, flight time 20 minutes followed with a speedboat ride 30-minutes to Dhigurah island. Prices: US $ 310++ round trip; Children under 12 years old get 50% discount. Kids below 2 years are complimentary. If you want to save on a transfer, book flights through your hotel, which give big discounts for domestic flights at a special, low price.
- Seaplane: If you never experience this unique mode of transport contact with your hoster to book the most scenic flight in your life. Duration: 30 minute flight and 10 minute speedboat from South Ari Atoll sea plane platform to Dhigurah. Price: $240 to $260 per person one way.
- 2. Speedboat from Male airport to Dhigurah:
- The speedboat is departing daily 10:45 AM and 04:00 PM (Friday 03:00PM) from Velana International Airport on Saturday to Thursday, on Fridays at 10:00 and 16:30.
- From Dhigurah to Male’ City or Velana International Airport at 06:30 and 13:30 on Saturday to Thursday. On Fridays at 6:30 and 13:45. $70 p.p. one way
- 3. Shared speedboat via Dhangethi: from Male to Dhigurah via Dhangethi is the most convenient and affordable option. Trips from Male on Saturdays and Thursdays at 15:00, travel time 2h 30min, US$ 80 one way. Shedule from Dhigurah on Saturday and Thursday at 06:30. The speedboat can pick you up from the airport too for an additional $10 per person.
- 4. Speedboat via Mahibadhoo: boat from Male to Dhigurah via Mahibadhoo / Dhangethi. Rides from Male Saturday and Thursday at 16:00, travel time 2h 15min, price is US $ 80 / person one way. From Dhigurah on Saturday and Thursday at 06:15.
- 5. MTCC Dhoni Ferry: Public ferry from Male to Dhigurah via Mahibadhoo / Dhangethi. Departures from Male on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday at 09:00, travel time 6h 15min, price per trip US $ 3.5 / person one way. Traffic from Dhigurah to Male via Mahibadhoo / Dhangethi on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 08:30. Check timetable
Life on Dhigurah is low pace, and it differs little from other inhabited islands of the Maldives archipelago. Enjoying the dry law a local people are friendly and always ready to help. Many of the residents work in neighboring 5-star resorts, while others are mainly engaged in fishing, building and agriculture. It takes less than 15 minutes to explore the whole village, which comes to life closer to the evening. Here, on the main street you will find some cheap minimarkets (sell small souvenirs and you can bargain) and the only cafe on the island.
There are two schools, a medical centre with a Doctor and 630 local people who are happy to share their beautiful island with all our guests.
With respect to local religion there is no alcohol available on Dhigurah, however guests who would like a drink can visit a nearby resort only 10 minutes away.
The island is inhabited by bats! When you walk around the island they are very easy to find in the trees.
The locals prefer to ride motorbikes and bicycles and the streets around are perfectly clean, which can not be said of some other parts of the island where the shores are covered with rubbish. Dhigurah is one of few local islands who have signed up to an initiative with Parley who are a conservation group who are introducing projects deigned to protect our oceans. The island collects any plastic that may have landed on our beach every week and it is then safely sent away to be made into Adidas Ultraboost trainers. The Dhigurah's diving school regularly organizes actions to clean the island of garbage attracting tourists with good discounts on excursions. Today, the tourist industry on the island is developing dynamically, and in the coming years, expect the emergence of new hotels and guest houses in Dhigurah.
Except for the long beach, Dhigurah's main attractions are below sea level. You can swim on all the beaches on the island, including those that are located near the hotels, there are also chaise lounges, but you must follow the dress code, i.e. no bikini. To sunbathe and swim in a bikini, tourists are allocated a stretch of sand strip in the island's southern part - bikini beach, adjacent to the sand spit. The island is narrow, in its middle there is a road for 3/4, then another 1/8 it turns into a path. From the road and the path there are ways to both the western and eastern shores. On a hot day it is more comfy travel exactly along the road. Here you will find narrow bands of white sand, lots of shade and crystal turquoise waters with spots of coral. There are several good places for snorkeling in the island. Perfect for a selfie, sandy spit is an ideal place for families with small children, there is shallow waters and no waves.
Also, Guests can learn to cook Maldivian style, play Bodu Beru drums, see local crafts and watch or play one of the many sports taking place on Dhigurah ...football, volleyball, badminton, bashi...a ladies game where the ball is hit backwards.
Snorkeling with Whale Sharks
Free snorklling in Dhigurah is available in different spots, but the house reef lies in the lagoon on the inside of the atoll. If you are an experienced swimmer, expect a hypnotic marine life, beautiful corals (spots) and lots of colorful fish. Paid snorkeling excursions offered by Island Divers are divided into several areas: snorkeling on coral reefs, whale shark safaris, Coral Garden Snorkeling, snorkeling with manta rays, and a night snorkelling also. Rates start from 30-65 dollars, which includes a transfer, snacks, water, and snorkeling gear. The most expensive tour with whale sharks, and the most exciting in Coral Garden is the riot of vibrant colors and abundant marine life. Expect to see reef sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, turtles and large schools of colorful fish. Seasons April-May and August-October are the best time for snorkeling around Dhigurah. The wind abates and the sea is calm. Months November-December are also convenient, but this is a high season, and prices are less than budget. This period is also an excellent time for blue marlin fishing.
From other activities on Dhigurah you can take a dolphins watching trip ($ 30), morning and night fishing ($ 40), a sunset cruise with drinks and snacks ($ 50), a picnic on a desert island, a tour to the nearby resort: Vakarufalhi Island Resort, Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa or Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa (from $ 120), or visit the spa at TME Retreats Dhigurah. For more adventurous guests, the TME Retreats Dhigurah offers a variety of water sports, including jet ski, catamaran, kayaks, water skiing, banana and other fun water adventures.
Boutique Beach All Inclusive Diving Hotel is home to a state-of-the-art dive centre PADI, operated by Island Divers. Thу diving instructors were born on Dhigura and know the marine life and reefs better than anyone else! The dive school use dhoni boat carries small groups of divers making sure their experience is intimate and special. The dive boat Captain has over 20 years spotting whale sharks and will always drop divers in the best place to observe them at close quarters. He can find each one of the 15 thilas, (pinnacles) without GPS and knows how to drop divers so they can drift slowly and calmly towards them. No fast and negative entry descents for our guests. The die center offers many dive courses each year, including open water, advanced and they are the only dive base on Dhigurah who can teach enriched air courses including NITROX. No safari boat can offer such a personal diving experience!
Island Divers offer: Early Morning Dive, Morning and Afternoon Dive, Tank Dive, Full Day Excursion, Private Diving and Night Dive. It also has a training school for beginners and 8-10 years of age. Island Divers have all the equipment that you need for diving, some of the equipment offered free of charge.The dive centre is operated by experienced Divemasters and Dive Instructors.
Things to Do
Indeed the longest island in the Ari atoll, Dhigurah lies on the southeast edge of Alif Dhaalu. Dhigurah is also one of the most picturesque islands with a long beach protected by a lagoon and an sandbank at its southern end. The sunrise and sunset are truly breath-taking and very much photograph worthy.
The island is a popular destination not only for fans of beach vacation, but also for divers and snorkelers who seek contact with whale sharks, manta rays and world-class corals that make this destination one of the best diving in the Maldives. So, if your ideal holiday is an under-the-sea adventure, then start planning your trip to this gem of an island. Select your time of stay correctly and swim with the resident Manta Rays and Whalesharks of Ari Atoll. From January till end of April visits to manta sites are made several times a week. Whilst at any time of year there is a good chance of encountering whale sharks if conditions are right. So regular are their visit’s that this is where the Maldives Whale shark Research Program is based.
The island has many places where you can satisfy your hunger including restaurants at hotels and a cafe-dining rooms on the island's main street. A mix of local and western fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner is served in the restaurant of the TME Retreats Dhigurah. Breakfasts are monotonous, lunches and dinners on the menu, and for dinner you can also order a buffet ($ 20). The average price of dishes from $ 8 -15. In the menu, salads, pastas, freshly baked bread, chicken, fish and there are several meat options. HERMIT’S restaurants at Bliss Dhigurah strikes a balance between local dishes for your culinary adventures and comfort food to get you ready for your next experience. On Dhigurah, the locally grow coconut, breadfruit, screw pine and chili. The seafood is fresh from the ocean.
The local cafe is very clean and the food is really delicious. On the menu expect a rice or noodles with chicken, beef, fish or curry. You can also order an omelette. The price of food from $ 3 - 4. In general, not expensive. A small bottle of water costs a dollar, so it's better to buy in a store. Assortment in local stores is about the same - water, juice, milk, cookies, condensed milk, canned fish, canned fruit, and breakfast cereals. Sometimes there are fresh pastries. In cafes and shops, you can pay, both in dollars and in Maldivian rufiyaa. There is also fruit and ice cream on sale.
Where to Stay
Today (2019) there are more than 10 hotels and guest houses on the island, the most popular of which are Boutique Beach All Inclusive Diving Hotel and TME Retreats Dhigurah - one of the favorite options of our guests in Dhigurah. From popular Deluxe to Family Rooms all accomodation on offer have the typical cosy benefits such as TVs, comfortable beds, fridges, etc. The bathrooms are equipped with double vanities, a shower and a bathtub. Some rooms can boast a great sea views. The TME Retreats is a short walk from the white sandy beach on the island of Digura. It offers modern air-conditioned rooms, as well as a Maldivian and Western restaurant. Boutique Beach is another stylish hotel designed with all the diver's needs in mind. Six large 'boutique style' rooms with OPEN AIR bathrooms and balconies or private gardens will provide a comfortable base. Bliss Dhigurah it's all about adventures to remember, food to look forward to and service with a smile.
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